Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy and the Impact of COVID-19 on GEM Communities

We are two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunately, we are not out of the woods just yet.  Remarkable developments in vaccines have proven a game-changer when it comes to managing the veracity of the virus but we can’t access the full value of those breakthroughs if people aren’t willing to get the jab.  Vaccine hesitancy is one of the most significant challenges facing our pandemic response and the variation between demographic groups is startling.

Research from the UK Household Longitudinal Study shows that up to 72% of black people say that they are unlikely to have the jab.  This hesitancy is exacerbating the already disproportionate impact that the pandemic has been having on our GEM colleagues and communities.  We’ve seen that essential workers have been the ones most affected by the virus and when you consider that these people are disproportionately pulled from ethnic minorities, you can see how the combination of these factors makes for some concerning reading.  This is not even mentioning how the resulting illnesses can snowball into a number of related HR issues.  This virus reaches far wider than most of us realise.

Analysis on that study from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies goes on to say that the major reasons for this vaccine hesitancy are due to historical issues of unethical healthcare research as well as structural discrimination – all of which lead to a distrust of modern medicine and its big pharma constituents.  The result of this is that a demographic that already finds itself seriously impacted by the pandemic in terms of job distribution now isn’t getting the sort of protection that it should be getting.  This is a major concern for the individuals in those communities, but also for the organisations that count these valued employees as part of their team.


Something has to change.

Here at Connex, we’re dedicated to creating space for these difficult discussions and so to tackle this one, we are hosting a roundtable discussion on the 8th of February to look for solutions.  The roundtable will bring together leaders from both within the affordable housing sector and from outside of it so that we can gain a fuller perspective of the challenges facing our GEM communities and see what we can do to assist along the way.

It’s important that as we discuss this challenging situation, we don’t start playing a blame game – especially when it comes to GEM communities.  We need to strive to understand the context and the history so that we can make forward progress together.

All meaningful change begins by coming together to confront the issues that face us, listening to the lived experiences of others, and then working together to find tractable solutions.  We hope that this roundtable will serve as a catalysing force to bring this issue to the forefront of the societal conversation and drive towards a different direction.

If you’re a housing leader and you care about the impact that the pandemic is having on these communities, please come and join us.  You’ll get to hear from some respected thinkers in the space as well as be given the opportunity to share your voice and play your part in coming up with the solutions that we so desperately need.

The event takes place on 8 February at 1.45 pm.  We hope that you’ll register here and come join us for what should be a very fruitful discussion.



Tanya Carter FCIPD, Chief People Officer, East London NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Shaun Davis, Global Director of Compliance & Sustainability, Royal Mail
Marjorie James, FCIPD, Group Director of People, YMCA St Paul’s Group
Abi Jacobs, Director of Strategic Partnerships, L&Q